Sunday, April 23, 2006

Senses and memories

I remember when I was in English class in Primary 6, my teacher told us this particular writing technique that has stuck to me since then. She said, “When writing a composition, using senses in your description is a very good way to write. Our senses can bring our readers into the story; they can feel what we are writing better.”

***

A few weeks earlier, I was walking down an aisle in the supermarket. Nothing much was on my mind except for which type of prawn to get, and whether Coles or Woolies had the cheaper rate. My friends were walking some way back, which was lucky for me. As I was reaching for a packet of curry powder, Bic Runga’s Sway came on in the supermarket’s stereo. I froze midair. I wasn’t missing him particularly before that, but my heart gave a squeeze anyway. It was our song.



***

When this

arrived at our table last Friday, I suddenly remembered the fried chicken they used to sell at Quickly (快可力) that looked like this. There was an outlet in Marina Square where SJ, JT and I used to frequent. Bubble tea was all the rage then, and it was cheaper than an ice blended from Coffee Bean. We would sit there forever, talking about nothing, looking as people went in and out of NTUC. After that, we sometimes went in NTUC and froze our asses off because bubble teas were cold drinks after all. Even in uniforms, we could sit for hours.

***

Two Thursdays ago, I went for my kickboxing class. Although it was one of the most relaxing classes ever, I managed to tear a bit of the skin off my knuckle. In Primary 4, we had to put up a stage production. After our rehearsal, Ken jumped off the stage. Ken was an athlete and he was nimble. On the other hand, his nickname for me was “Fatty” and you can imagine how I landed when I tried to imitate him. I fell on both knees but was too proud to cry. I still have the scars to show for it, as do the scab on my knuckle.



***

We cook our own meals here. Nothing fanciful. Just simple dishes using an assortment of sauces we stored in the fridge. Most days, we had to rely on the “magic powder” a.k.a. chicken seasoning to do its trick. Fried rice miraculously turned into works of art (but later caused undeniable thirst). One day, I was wondering what I could do with the smelly fish we had. There was one whole frikking kilogram of it. I saw black bean sauce and chilli padi. Tofu is in ready supply too. All the ingredients to one of mum’s best dishes: steamed black bean fish with tofu.

It didn’t taste particularly good or looked very enticing. But it was that tiny taste closer to home. I still had to do my dishes later. Damn!



***

When I was walking by my housemate’s bathroom earlier, the scent of Johnson’s and Johnson’s Baby Bath drifted past me. I particularly associated this aroma to grandmother. Whenever we stayed over, Grandmother liked to use this shower foam for our baths. Let’s not forget the No More Tears Baby Shampoo. I had a love-hate relationship with it. It tangled my hair, yet smelled heavenly. What’s a girl to do? Have a sweet perfume at the expense of wired hair?

A few years on, I was no longer the baby of the family. I would excitedly participate whenever grandmother showered one of my younger cousins. I watched in silent amazement as she closed all the windows and doors to prevent draughts from getting to the child. As she gently wrapped the baby in cloth nappy so she could wash their heads first, I was so engrossed that I almost forgot to breathe. It was a lovely sight. Tiny, petite grandmother had a tinier and more petite baby in her wrinkly arms as she sang to them. The scent from the foam filled the still air as the baby crooned during the bath. The only time I participated in the shower was during dressing up. I was allowed to help open the safety pin at a safe distance and handed it over the grandmother. A very grown-up thing to do that made my chest puffed up in pride.





I think I’ll go get my own travel-sized bottle of Johnson’s and Johnson’s Baby Bath.

2 comments:

Woof! said...

I get flashbacks from J&J's blue baby shampoo too!

Anonymous said...

Songs do bring back quite a lot of memories, scents too. I remembered how I always acted weirdly when I hear a particular song. I guess its just memories that can't be erased. Haha.